Charitable Gift Ideas: Gifts with a Mission

Have you ever wandered aimlessly through a store or found yourself surfing the Internet, trying desperately to pick a perfect gift for that special someone? Let’s face it; most of us have been in that situation where absolutely nothing seems to fit the bill.

When that happens, perhaps it’s time to think outside the (gift) box!

Making a charitable donation to a worthy cause is a meaningful way to honor someone special and it starts by answering the question “what really matters to that person?” Do they love animals? Do they enjoy making extravagant meals for family and friends? Do they serve as mentors for teen parents? Have they or someone close to them struggled with serious illness?

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the U.S. While these are not all public charities, given this staggering number, there shouldn’t be a problem finding one that will be meaningful to that special person.

There are many websites that provide important information on hundreds of charitable organizations and give valuable advice on what to look for in organizations you might want to support. Charity Watch (https://www.charitywatch.org), Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org/ and Guide Star (https://www.guidestar.org) are all good sources to use.

While there are numerous local organizations you can choose from, following are some suggestions of national or international organizations that have received high ratings for their careful use of resources and dedication to their mission.

Doctors Without Borders, USA (DWB-USA) was founded in 1990 in New York City to raise funds, create awareness, recruit field staff, and advocate with the United Nations and US government on humanitarian concerns. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.

Friends of the Earth and our network of grassroots groups in 77 countries fight to create a more healthy, just world. Our current campaigns focus on clean energy and solutions to global warming, protecting people from toxic and new, potentially harmful technologies, and promoting smarter, low-pollution transportation alternatives. Friends of the Earth U.S. is also a part of Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental network. Our dedicated staff fights to protect the rights of all people to live in a safe and healthy environment, both at home or in countries around the world. Our campaigns demonstrate our belief that the fight for justice and the movement to protect the health of the planet are part of the same struggle.

The mission of Operation Second Chance is to provide support for the Soldiers and Marines while they are here at WRNMMC and then to further assist them when they transition either back to duty or back to civilian life. We aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded service men and women, assist in the modification of housing to accommodate disabled veterans, assist families of wounded service men and women, and facilitate the transition of wounded service men and women back into civilian society.

Established in 1988, Rainforest Trust works around the tropics to strategically purchase and protect lands vital for endangered species and indigenous communities. We specifically target the most threatened tropical habitats that are critical for preventing species extinctions and that are exceptionally rich in biological diversity. Celebrating 30 years of lasting conservation action, we are proud to have saved more than 22 million acres of tropical habitat across 53 countries in 150 protected areas and wildlife reserves.

Established in 1984, the mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and wellbeing of children. RMHC makes an immediate, positive impact on children’s lives through our global network of Chapters in 52 countries and regions and through our three core programs: Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. We award grants to other nonprofit organizations that align with our mission to positively impact the health and wellbeing of children. We are also committed to education. Local Chapters award thousands of scholarships each year through RMHC U.S. Scholarships to students entering college across the United States.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was founded in 1971 as a small civil rights law firm. Today, SPLC is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups. Throughout its history, SPLC has worked to make the nation’s Constitutional ideals a reality. The SPLC legal department fights all forms of discrimination and works to protect society’s most vulnerable members, handling innovative cases that few lawyers are willing to take. The SPLC Intelligence Project monitors hate groups and tracks extremist activity throughout the U.S. To combat the causes of hate, SPLC in 1991 established Teaching Tolerance, an educational program to help K-12 teachers foster respect and understanding in the classroom.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.